Red Bull senior advisor Helmut Marko suggested Lewis Hamilton to Ferrari will “strain” the relationship of Mercedes boss Toto Wolff and Ferrari’s Fred Vasseur, though Wolff says this is not the case.
After one final season with Mercedes in F1 2024, seven-time World Champion Hamilton will then make the shock switch to Ferrari, an off-season bombshell that few saw coming.
Wolff has the task therefore of finding the ideal new team-mate for George Russell and ensuring a smooth transition into the post-Hamilton era, while Vasseur is revelling in the knowledge that Hamilton, a driver chased by Ferrari for many years, is finally coming to Maranello.
No ‘strain’ in Toto Wolff and Fred Vasseur relationship
Off the track Wolff and Vasseur are good friends, though when speaking to sport.de, Marko suggested this shock Hamilton move will “strain” the relationship of the respective team bosses.
However, speaking to media including PlanetF1.com’s Thomas Maher, Wolff confirmed this is not the case, insisting there is no “bad feeling” at all towards Vasseur regarding Hamilton’s defection.
“I have great respect for Fred, not only as a racing manager, but also as a long-time friend,” said Wolff.
“But when he took the role in Ferrari, it was clear that he needs to do the best he can for Ferrari and use every opportunity in order to do that. So, there is no bad feeling towards Fred trying to get the best employees, the best drivers. So that has no effect on the relationship.
“It is a tough competition. It is a cut-throat environment. And as much as I try to do the best for our group, he will do that for Ferrari.”
Asked if he had spoken directly to Vasseur, Wolff replied: “Yeah, numerous times. We’re coordinated on our communications and I speak to him multiple times every week.
“And you know, it’s a little bit like rugby, we punch each other in the nose, but we are able to get off the pitch and have a respectful relationship.”
Hamilton has plenty of prior experience working under Vasseur, having claimed the GP2 title in 2006 as part of the ART Grand Prix team co-founded by the Frenchman.
And Wolff sees no reason why the duo’s positive relationship will not continue at Ferrari.
“I have no doubt that Fred will be able to have a very good relationship with Lewis as his boss,” said Wolff. “No doubt about that.
“They’ve known each other for more than 20 years. He’s raced in ART. Fred understands racing drivers’ minds, and he does things very differently to me, but they’re very successful, like his track record shows.”
Hamilton will find himself with Charles Leclerc on the other side of the garage upon joining Ferrari in 2025.